DUCKS (1-5-1) AT BLACKHAWKS (5-3-0)
TV: NHLN-US, SNE, SNO, SNP, PRIME, FS-SD, CSN-CH
CHICAGO -- The Anaheim Ducks are looking for a spark right now, and they're hopeful rookie forward Chris Wagner can provide one against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Monday.
It's the first time the Blackhawks and Ducks are playing since last season's Western Conference Final, won by the Blackhawks in seven games.
Wagner had been sent to San Diego of the American Hockey League on Oct. 20 but was recalled Monday and will play right wing on the Ducks' fourth line. Chris Stewart will come out of the lineup as coach Bruce Boudreau continues looking for combinations that work.
He played one game prior to being sent to the AHL. He had one goal and one assist in three games with San Diego.
Wagner will look to bring energy to the Ducks by being physical and looking to fire up his teammates with a well-placed hit or two. Can that help the Ducks, who have scored six goals in their first seven games?
"We'll see," Boudreau said. "We're hoping. Last year he did that for us, and hopefully this year he can too."
The Ducks (1-5-1) are seventh in the Pacific Division and have been shut out four times. That's as many times as they were held scoreless all of last season. Boudreau is trying to push the right buttons, but thus far the firepower hasn't been there.
Still, he's trying to stay as optimistic as possible.
"I just think, as a coach, you come to the rink every day and you show the passion you have for the game and hope it wears off," Boudreau said. "You come in [and] every day's a new day, you know? The sun's still coming up, even if it is Chicago in October or early November. You look for the positives in everything and you're not sitting around being gloomy."
He delivered a similar message to his players Monday.
"Today I talked to them about how great it is to be a hockey player," Boudreau said. "We are so lucky and so blessed to do this job that we've loved, rather than doing things that are forced upon you. And we have to play like that. We have to play with that enthusiasm. So hopefully that wears off."
Boudreau said he's sensed his players putting too much pressure on themselves to score, and knows that isn't going to help.
"Just play the game like you know how, with the excitement that you did when you were younger," Boudreau said. "I look at my kids when they were 6 years old and had to get up at five in the morning to go to practice. After about 10 seconds they [couldn't] wait to get to the rink because they love that. And that's what we're looking for, is to get that passion back into the game. I think a little bit there, we lost it a little bit. And now we're trying [hard] to get it back."
It won't be easy against the defending Stanley Cup champions, despite the Blackhawks going through numerous offseason changes and now playing without top defenseman Duncan Keith for 4-6 weeks. He had surgery last week to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee and has missed two games, but the Blackhawks won both.
"I think everyone just feels more responsibility now," Blackhawks forward Viktor Tikhonov said. "[Keith] is the kind of player you just know is going to go out there and make stuff happen, and when he's not there it's like, 'Uh oh, we have to do it now.' I think that's what everyone has done. [We've] kind of shared the responsibility a little bit and everyone has stepped up since he's been out."
Goalie Corey Crawford will start for the Blackhawks. Frederik Andersen will start in goal for the Ducks.
Here are the projected lineups:
Carl Hagelin - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Jiri Sekac - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano - Rickard Rakell - Mike Santorelli
Patrick Maroon - Shawn Horcoff - Chris Wagner
Hampus Lindholm - Kevin Bieksa
Cam Fowler - Korbinian Holzer
Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen
Injured: Simon Despres (upper body), Josh Manson (upper body)
Scratched: Joe Piskula, Tim Jackman, Chris Stewart
Viktor Tikhonov - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Teuvo Teravainen - Vincent Hinostroza - Ryan Garbutt
Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Andrew Shaw
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Viktor Svedberg - Brent Seabrook
Trevor Daley - David Rundblad
Injured: Duncan Keith (knee), Michal Rozsival (left ankle)
Scratched: Bryan Bickell
Status report: Bickell will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game. ... Manson was placed on injured reserve Saturday; Piskula was recalled from San Diego of the AHL to take his spot. … Wagner's presence bumped Cogliano to Rakell's line and moved Maroon to Horcoff's line. Kesler's line was used as the third group of forwards at the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, but likely will go back the second one over the boards.
Who's hot: Crawford is 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .952 save percentage in the Blackhawks' past three games. ... Andersen has allowed two goals or fewer in three of his four starts.